On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced the results of an eight-month government-wide review designed to reduce the regulatory impact on businesses. Every federal department was ordered to put forward a plan to do away with red tape. Now that those plans have been unveiled, the administration has promised an additional round of reviews, a process that White House officials claim is “likely” to save at least $10 billion over five years and create an unspecified number of jobs.
Members of the business community met this effort with the equivalent of an obligatory golf clap, as one applauds a beleaguered player who finally taps in for triple-bogey. “The administration’s findings and determinations, on their own, are a worthy effort at making technical changes to the regulatory process,” Bill Kovacs, a senior vice president at the Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “But the results of this lookback will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burden facing businesses today.”
Indeed, even if that $10 billion estimate holds true, it would cover just a fraction of the $65 billion in total costs imposed by the nearly 350 new federal regulations introduced since beginning of this year alone, according to an analysis by Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.). And those are only the rules for which the administration deigned to analyze the economic consequences before implementing them. Hundreds more have been put in place without regard to cost or the impact on jobs.
That is why Republicans are gearing up to challenge President Obama, who will supposedly unveil — in speech format, no less — a “very specific” jobs plan when Congress returns in September, on the issue of government overregulation and its damaging impact on jobs. “Speeches and editorials are not enough to help real job creators in America — small business owners — create middle-class jobs,” Cantor said in a statement following the release of the regulatory review. “Action is needed — which is why we must remove onerous federal regulations that are redundant, harmful to small businesses, and impede private sector investment and job creation.”
GOP lawmakers already have a number of bills in the pipeline that would address the issue. Senator Barrasso, for example, has introduced legislation that would simply force federal agencies to consider the impact that new regulations would have on jobs. Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) has proposed a moratorium on major new regulation until the unemployment rate returns to 7.7 percent — the rate when Obama took office.
In the House, where the GOP can actually set the legislative agenda, Republicans are poised to roll out measures that would eliminate some of the more onerous regulations imposed by the administration. “Next month, the House will continue our jobs focus and pursue a legislative agenda that boosts economic growth through reducing the regulatory and tax burden,” Cantor said. “We will make sure that Washington policies are less restrictive to businesses small and large by requiring a congressional review and approval of any proposed federal government regulation that will have a significant impact on the economy.”
Here’s at look at some of the various federal agencies that are ripe for a regulatory overhaul:
Environmental Protection Agency. Ever since Congress rejected his business-crippling “cap and trade” venture, President Obama has simply sought to impose his agenda anyway through the EPA, most blatantly through the creation of new ozone-pollution standards, at an estimated cost of nearly $1 trillion. The administration has wisely decided to delay the imposition of these new standards, but opponents argue that they ought to be scrapped altogether to ease the collective anxiety of the business community.
Furthermore, the EPA and the Department of Transportation have jointly conceived new regulations that would — for the first time ever — require stricter emissions and mileage standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks. These new standards would affect everything from delivery vans to full-size pickups and buses. Barrasso estimated that the new rules would cost consumers an additional $1,000 per vehicle, at a total cost of more than $8 billion. Tighter controls on pollution caused by cement and “coarse particulate material” (i.e., dust) are also in the works, promising to drive up costs and further impede employers’ ability to create jobs.